“The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to change… Repenting means giving up all of our practices-personal, family, ethnic, national- that are contrary to the commandments of God. The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change “ Elder Dallin H Oaks.I like that quote because it has made me see repentance and change in a way that I’ve never viewed before. To truly change the very nature of one’s self is true repentance. But, how can I repent without forgiveness?
Christ taught that forgiving is a prerequisite to being forgiven:
And when we stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses (Mark 11:25-26).
President Gordon B Hinckley emphasized that forgiveness “may be the greatest virtue on earth, and certainly the most needed.”
Also, individuals and families who can forgive important transgressions are likely to have better emotional and physical health (Battle & Miller,2005). Numerous studies have demonstrated a relationship between forgiveness and well-being. Just recently, I was impressed to learn that stress and holding on to anger is not only damaging to your mental health but also your physical one.
Far too many family members die of broken hearts; hearts that could have been healed by the power of repentance and forgiveness. My father’s and my relationship has been rocky in recent years. I swear that I would cut him off and never speak to him again. I was tired of the broken promises, unnecessary disagreements, and his existence! But then I realize that I needed to forgive him and stop holding on to the anger of the past. I couldn’t imagine how I would feel had he passed away without having the chance to reconcile with him.
Forgiveness paves the way for reconciliation. Can you imagine how many more broken marriages and families there would be without forgiveness. Sometimes it can be hard to forgive someone who may have caused pain and sometimes it may even seem impossible to. Carrying around the hurt and resentment will only cause harm to one’s self.